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2021 NLDS Preview: Braves, Brewers split season series

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The 2021 playoffs are upon us with a matchup with the Brewers looming. Lets see how they matched up this season so far.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Atlanta Braves Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Well, Braves fans, the Atlanta Braves professional baseball club overcame overwhelming odds this season to clinch their fourth straight division crown. They had to do so without the services of Ronald Acuna Jr., Mike Soroka, Marcell Ozuna, and Travis d’Arnaud among others for vast swaths of this season, but they pulled it off and that is cause for celebration. However, we now must turn our attention to the upcoming matchup with the Milwaukee Brewers who coasted to the NL Central crown (despite the Cardinals’ September surge). The Brewers will have home field advantage in the five game series, but before we dig into previewing the series itself, lets look at how the regular season series between these two clubs went.

Head-to-head record: 3-3

Well, this doesn’t tell us very much that we didn’t already know. A cursory glance at how these two rosters shows very different, but seemingly very evenly matched teams and that is how it played out during the regular season. Oddly enough, in the two series that the Braves and Brewers played against each other this season, the road team won both series as Atlanta took the series back in May while the Brewers won towards the end of July.

Pitching Highlights

Remember when Huascar Ynoa broke his hand fighting a bench after a torrid start to the season? Yeah, the reason for his fury was because of a pretty brutal start against the Brewers where he gave up five runs in 4 1/3 innings of work in one of the Braves losses. At least two of the starters in the Braves’ three wins this season against Milwaukee are not likely to be starting in the NLDS as Drew Smyly and Kyle Muller were both good against Milwaukee. Touki Toussaint got beat up by the Brewers in a start at the end of July, but again, he is very unlikely to even make the playoff roster, so that isn’t very predictive either.

As for the Brewers pitchers, the Braves actually had a good game offensively against Corbin Burnes where they tagged him for five runs early, but that good work was wasted due to the aforementioned dumpster fire of a start from Toussaint. The Braves probably aren’t super excited about seeing Freddy Peralta again as he threw six shutout innings against Atlanta back in May and Peralta has been good this year, although he has looked more human lately. The Braves faced Brandon Woodruff once in 2021 and got three runs on eight hits off of him as Kyle Muller was shoving on the mound. One last note here, while the Braves’ struggles with scoring runs late in ballgames is well documented, they have had moderate success against the Brewers bullpen this season and that was obviously before Milwaukee lost Devin Williams after he pulled a Ynoa and broke his hand punching something a person should not punch.

Hitting Highlights

Freddie Freeman mashed against the Brewers in the first series back in May with a couple of homers and continued to hit well against them regardless of who was on the mound. It was largely a team effort during the season series as guys like Dansby Swanson, Austin Riley, William Contreras, and Ozzie Albies all had individually strong games even if they were somewhat less consistent than Freeman against Milwaukee over the course of the season. Given the strength of the Brewers’ pitching staff, its good to see that the Braves did not have issues generating offense against them this year.

On the other side, a lot of the damage done against the Braves by the Brewers was from Avisail Garcia and Willy Adames which, well, is pretty much par for the course for this Brewers offense. Garcia was better in the first series while Adames added the Braves to the list of his victims ever since he was traded to the Brewers. Lorenzo Cain and Kolten Wong have also been VERY pesky against Atlanta throughout the season with multiple big games at the plate in both series.